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How to protect your trees, shrubs and perennials for the winter

Since our winters last for several months, remember your garden must not be an eyesore in any season. To keep it looking good in winter, avoid clashing colours, and create conceptual continuity by using the same materials throughout the garden.

Protect conifers

Conifers probably resist winter's rough handling better than any other plant. However, their persistent needles require large amounts of water. In the fall, it needs to stock up on water, which will allow it to better withstand the drying winds of spring. The following spring, you might notice that they have lost their colour and that some branches have turned brown.

  • Before the first frosts and late in the fall - water them abundantly. Then implement the appropriate winter protection measures.
  • If you have upright conifers, wrap them with an appropriate black or transparent netting or tie them up with string. This will prevent the branches from opening and bending under the weight of the snow.
  • Staking conifers near the house or under roof over­ hangs is a good idea, as it protects them from large accumulations of snow.
  • Use a snow fence to protect your plants from the wind. They are solid, but not airtight. You can wrap them around the base of conifers or make shelters to completely cover globular conifers.

Protect trees

Trees do not generally need winter protection. Notable exceptions to this rule are trees on grafted stems, young trees and fruit trees.

  • Young trees and fruit tress - protect the base of the trunk from rodents with a perforated white plastic spiral.
  • Grafted stem trees - cover with a geotextile fabric held by 4 stakes. Protect the base with a plastic spiral.

Protect shrubs and fragile plants

  • Tie the branches of shrubs together with a rope or nylon net, to protect them from snow or ice.
  • Surround the shrubs with a snow fence covered with geotextile if they are in a windy location.

Winter protection summary table

  • Plastic barriers should be avoided, as they prevent plants from breathing. They can result in excessive condensation, causing an accumulation of ice and freeze-dried leaves.
  • Pierce your cones in several places to allow for air circulation.
Snow fence

Plastic netting

Winter fabric

ConesWhite spiralStringProtective FabricMulch
Upright conifers X XX
Spreading conifersX
Hardy shrubsX XX
Less hardy shrubsX X X
HedgesX XXX
Rose bushes XX X X
Hardy rose bushesX
Trees X
Fruit trees X
Less hardy perennials XX XX
Lawn X
Flowerbeds X